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Personal Paranormal
Experiences of

Geoffrey Gould

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Matrix Theatre Ghost(s?)
A few years ago I worked on an independent feature film, on which I met the wonderful, pleasant and talented Pamela Salem. Until moving to Florida in June 2011, she and her great husband Michael O'Hagan ran a theatre company out of the Matrix Theatre on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood. I attended their wonderfully creepy and suspenseful production of the Alan Ackbourn thriller Snake in the Grass, in which Pamela was the lead.

A few months later I attended the theatre's production of the powerful Gene Franklin Smith written drama Boise, USA. Having grown up on the stage, I know what it's like to hold a character for an entire evening; one has to be on one's toes for anything unexpected. In one scene a woman leaves the stage to get some sandwiches in the kitchen, leaving two men to talk in private. After a few moments, there was a sudden, very loud thwunk sound from off stage. The lead actually blinked and turned his head in surprise, while I thought the off-stage actress had simply dropped something. The lead's character-break was momentary, but he'd clearly been surprised by the sound, which is why I believed it was a dropped prop.
It was not a dropped prop.

At the interval, I was speaking with Micheal and Gene: it turned out that "something had happened" to the air conditioning unit. The theatre's AC was such one had to use a ladder to get to it: "somehow" its vent had slammed shut, which it could not have done on its own. That had been the sound that even I heard from my audience seat.

"Maybe you have a ghost," I couldn't help half-joking, knowing theatres' perchance for hauntings.
"Oh we do," Pamela off-handedly assured me, relating that every so often Things Went Bump In The Night, especially during late night rehearsals...
One set-piece (and plot point), on stage for the well received Snake in the Grass was a hollow, old well. The play is a suspense thriller, and it wasn't difficult to Get Worked Up even during the rehearsal process. One late evening the three women of the cast were on stage at the same time, when suddenly from the hollow well came a very precise knocking. This was clearly the knocking of Someone Inside The Well set-piece, not some random noise. It was deliberate and forceful.

Pamela Salem, left, Claire Jacobs and Nicola Bertram starred in Alan Ayckbourn's 'Snake in the Grass' at the Matrix Theater, April 2008
Pamela Salem, Claire Jacobs and Nicola Bertram in Snake in the Grass at the Matrix Theater, April 2008

Thinking (and/or hoping/praying) that the stage manager was playing tricks on them, Pamela began to admonish her as she approached the well, until they checked and sure enough, the well was empty.
At least by any living entities...
And Pamela also reported that in a rehearsal, as she faced Claire Jacobs playing her sister, a tall dark shadow visibly passed between their faces (I met their other cast member Nicola Bertram at the time of the show and since, but next time should she and I come across each other I'll have to see if she can report any personal versions of her experiences).
So during the Boise, USA performance, I had heard the ghost slamming shut the air conditioning vent for whatever reason it felt the need to do so. No one else could have gotten to the unit without a ladder, which wasn't even set up at the time.

Back to Story Index site created February 29, 2008

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